December 23, 2013 10:00:35 AM
CINCINNATI -- ESPN's Adam Schefter cited multiple sources Sunday night in reporting that Columbus' Leslie Frazier won't be the coach of the Minnesota Vikings after this season.
On Sunday, Frazier and Minnesota slipped to 4-10-1 with a 42-14 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Andy Dalton threw four touchdown passes to help Cincinnati (10-5) clinch a postseason berth. For the Vikings, they suffered a blowout loss that guaranteed Frazier will have more seasons with double-digit losses (two) than double-digit wins (one) as Vikings' coach.
Schefter reported Sunday that Vikings ownership has told others around the league it is planning to make a head coaching change after this season, though one team source was adamant nothing has been decided. Vikings ownership has told others it believes it presides over an attractive opportunity, one that will have another premium draft pick, along with the promise of a new stadium coming. The Vikings already have been doing their due diligence on potential replacements for Frazier, and their wish list is said to include Vanderbilt coach James Franklin and Penn State coach Bill O'Brien, among others.
The return of standout running back Adrian Peterson couldn't help Minnesota. Peterson missed a victory against the Philadelphia Eagles last week with a sprained right foot. He was limited in practice during this week but wanted to play. Frazier decided to rest him after the game got out of hand. Peterson finished with 11 carries for 45 yards.
"I lobbied a little bit (to stay in), but is it really worth the risk?" Peterson said. "I don't feel like I played with as much confidence as I need. I was a little hesitant. My body is just not responding like I want it to."
After the game, Peterson, who last season rushed for 2,097 yards and helped Minnesota go 10-6 and make the playoffs, lobbied for Minnesota ownership to keep Frazier.
"I'm definitely not an individual that's looking for dramatic change. It would hurt if he leaves," said Peterson, who added he would convey his support of Frazier directly to ownership after the season. "I try to say what I think, but there's a time and place for everything. With the season getting wrapped up, that time is coming. I'm going to give my input, see what they have to say and we'll go from there."
Minnesota didn't offer Frazier a contract extension following the team's 10-6 finish in the regular season last year. Green Bay defeated Minnesota 24-10 in the first round of the playoffs. This season, the team started 1-7 and has featured an assortment of quartrbacks (Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman, and Matt Cassel). Cassel was 13 of 27 for 114 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
Frazier, a 1977 graduate of Lee High School, was promoted from defensive coordinator to interim head coach of the Vikings in 2010 after the team parted ways with coach Brad Childress. He went 3-3 as an interim coach in the final six games of the 2010 season. The Vikings went 3-13 in 2011 before rebounding to earn the sixth seed in the playoffs in 2012.
Frazier interviewed for head coaching positions with the Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, and Buffalo Bills before being named to coach Minnesota. He had a successful college career at Alcorn State and with the Chicago Bears, where the defensive back suffered a career-ending injury on a punt return during the 1985 Super Bowl.
Frazier came to Minnesota after coaching the defensive backs with the Indianapolis Colts and serving as special assistant to head coach Tony Dungy for two seasons.
Prior to his tenure with Indianapolis, Frazier served as defensive coordinator with Cincinnati in 2003-04. His NFL coaching debut came from 1999-2002 with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he worked with the Eagles' defensive backs.
Frazier spent 11 seasons as a college coach before returning to the NFL. In 1997 and '98 he worked with the defensive backs at Illinois on Ron Turner's staff. He also started the Trinity College football program in 1988. The school, now known as Trinity International University, named the football field in Frazier's honor in 1997 in tribute to his impact on the campus.
As a player, Frazier was part of the Chicago Bears defense that keyed the Super Bowl XX victory against New England. He was a starter at cornerback on the 1985 Super Bowl team and played for the Bears from 1981-86. He led Chicago in interceptions in 1983, '84 and '85 but his career was cut short by a severe knee injury suffered in the Super Bowl. He finished his career with 20 interceptions in 65 games, including two returns for touchdowns.
Frazier was an All-America defensive back and a baseball standout at Alcorn State. In 2007, Frazier was inducted into the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame, and in 2012 he earned induction into the Alcorn State Hall of Fame.
On Sunday, Dalton helped Cincinnati improve to 7-0 at home this season. Linebacker Vincent Rey returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown as Cincinnati's defense set up another fast start. The Bengals have scored at least 40 points in each of their last four home games, a franchise first.
The Vikings have allowed 467 points this season, most in the NFL. They've given up 40 points four times in the last nine games.
Having Peterson back didn't matter much.
Dalton has thrown 31 touchdown passes this season, one shy of Carson Palmer's club record from 2005. Dalton replaced Palmer in the 2011 season and has led his team to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons, only the fifth quarterback in NFL history to do so.
His biggest shortcoming: 0-2 with two poor showings in the playoffs. The Bengals haven't won a playoff game since the 1990 season, tied for the seventh-longest stretch of futility in NFL history.
He had good conditions for throwing the ball -- breezy with temperatures in the 50s. And the defense helped out, too.
Dalton threw touchdown passes of 29 yards to A.J. Green and 16 yards to Jermaine Gresham as the Bengals pulled ahead 28-7 before halftime, the most points that Minnesota had allowed in an opening half.
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